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Land Unknown, The

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Fan.

Film (1957). Universal-International. Produced by William Alland. Directed by Virgil W Vogel. Written by Laszlo Gorog, William N Robson from a story by Charles Palmer. Cast includes Henry Brandon, Phil Harvey, Douglas Kennedy (Captain Burnham), Jock Mahoney, William Reynolds (Lt Jack Carmen) and Shawn Smith. 78 minutes. Black and white.

A US Navy expedition to Antarctica sets off to explore the warm-water lakes discovered in the late 1940s. Traveling by helicopter, Commander Harold Roberts (Mahoney) and his team are forced to turn back due to an approaching storm. However, a collision with a small pterosaur damages their rotary shaft, forcing them down into what proves to be a Lost World hidden by perpetual banks of fog. This valley is heated by volcanic activity, and has conditions similar to those during the age of Dinosaurs. Indeed, the explorers shortly discover living dinosaurs including a Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as carnivorous plants and an aquatic Elasmosaurus in the small sea. Next they encounter Dr Carl Hunter (Brandon) who is the last survivor of one of the 1947 expeditions which also crashed in this valley; he has parts from his aircraft which could repair their helicopter, but demands team member Maggie Hathaway (Smith) in exchange – having become somewhat deranged during his years of isolation. Roberts refuses, but his team is unable to locate the wreckage on their own. Hunter kidnaps Maggie, and takes her back to his home, a cave in the cliffs on the far side of the sea, but she is soon rescued. Carmen wants to torture Hunter into revealing the whereabouts of the wreckage, but Roberts prevents this. Maggie finally decides she will stay behind with Hunter willingly for the sake of the others, but is almost killed by the elasmosaur and saved by Hunter. Impressed and now somewhat more sane, Hunter gives the crew the map to the wreckage, and machinist's mate Steve Miller (Harvey) is able to repair the helicopter. As they are leaving, they find Hunter about to be killed by the aquatic reptile, and rescue him, then make for the Navy ships. Low on fuel, they crash just short of the deck, but all are saved, and everyone departs for home at the conclusion.

This fairly minor Monster Movie used a combination of photographically enlarged lizards, rubber suits, and a model (for the elasmosaur). Reportedly, Jack Arnold had been set to direct the film, but declined after repeated budget reductions which prevented it from being filmed in colour as originally planned. [GSt]

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